Former South Africa President Zuma must face trial, judges rule

FILE Former President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta

It's uncertain how long the trial will last and when South Africans will have answers for a case that has been going on for nearly 15 years.

The charges date back to 2005 when the former president received 783 payments totalling over R4m from his then-financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

After his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated, finally succeeding in 2016.

Zuma's appearance lasted less than two minutes, and although there was a strong police presence outside the courthouse, none of his usual throng of supporters were at the court.

In a public hearing, Zuma denied he had presided over an vast system of corruption and patronage that drained billions from the country's exchequer, and told the inquiry that he was the victim of a plot by foreign intelligence agencies to seek his downfall.

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The judicial inquiry was set up after an ombudsman's report uncovered apparent evidence of improper contact between three wealthy businessmen brothers - Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta - and senior officials in Zuma's administration. Their published November 2001 report stated that there were no grounds to believe that the government had acted illegally or improperly.

They abandoned the case months before he became president in 2009, saying taped phone calls indicated that the chief investigator may have used the case to frustrate Zuma's efforts to win control of the ruling African National Congress.

Thales said in a statement that it "notes the decision of the High Court" and was assessing its legal options.

The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday on South Africa's Gupta family and associate Salim Essa, calling them a "significant corruption network" that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.

South African authorities must clamp down on the Gupta family, according to a message from across the world.

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